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Opinions on using pure/fine silver?

I am aware that .999 silver is very soft, but still useable and marketable. Unlike pure gold, which is very expensive, fine silver differs little in cost to sterling, and is in fact much cheaper than some tarnish resistant alloys (namely those containing platinum group metals). It is immune to both firescale and firestain and is slower to tarnish. I imagine that, with good care, fine silver jewellery should last a lifetime. Am I mistaken? I’ve noticed that fine silver tends to scratch a little faster initially, but after a while you can’t tell any difference between scratches in sterling and fine silver. Yes it rings might deform, but it can always be straightened out, and pendants and decently thick chains shouldn’t be a problem. What are your thoughts, especially those who regularly work with fine silver?

ArgentumMoon

I use it once in a while for bezels, but mainly as filler wire for filigree…Rob

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I’ve used it and I find it much easier to work with than sterling (but I’m used to working with 22k gold and find sterling so much more difficult and less forgiving). I also love the color. I’ve made pendants and earrings and they’re holding up great. I haven’t tried rings but maybe if you work hardened it very well that would help.

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Thanks for your opinion! So you would say that you find that fine silver’s softness doesn’t pose any major problems, and especially so if it is work hardened?

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Have you ever made a solid fine silver piece? And if so did you notice it was problematically soft? I am aware it will be softer, but I mean problematically so.

I wouldn’t hesitate to use it. Now if you were setting an extremely expensive stone in a ring or bracelet, I would choose a harder alloy. But people use even 24k gold as long as there is a lot of hammering to harden.

For earrings and pendants I don’t see a problem. For rings and bracelets that are subjected to much more rough handling I would make sure it was a hefty enough gauge and well hardened.

Good luck!

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Thank you! For designs where a smooth finish is desired, and thus hammering is not ideal, what would you recommend to work harden the piece?

Can someone explain to me how you can harden fine silver?

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Jonah, I was taught that the reason you can harden sterling is because of the copper content. Since fine silver has no copper in it, it follows that it cannot be work hardened. Hopy you are having fun making jewelry!
Barbara

Fine silver can most definitely be work hardened, as with All metals pure or otherwise. Pure copper, pure gold, pure silver etc. Pure metals cannot, however, be heat or precipitation hardened. I would Like to hear some methods of work hardening a piece other than hammering. I do like a nice hammered texture, but if a smooth texture is desired I would be curious as to how work hardening would be achieved.

I don’t like fine for rings and bracelets. Pendants and necklaces are good. I also find that when left out, it does tarnish deeply. For items I don’t want to tarnish, I use anti-tarnish bags. I don’t remember how to harden the metal a little more.

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Twisting or bending would work I imagine but it might permanently deform the piece.

That question would be better answered on the forum as I have limited experience with Silver, I mostly work with gold. I know that you can actually heat harden silver, but again I am not an expert. But for sure there’ll be somebody that can answer that on Ganoksin.

Good luck!

Margaret

I worked a lot in silver. First it’s the copper in sterling that tarnishes black. Fine silver can go a dull gray after a long time. Pure silver is mainly popular as bezel material as it bends so much easier. Sterling resists bending more than pure silver. Not a good idea to put a pure silver shank on an active persons ring unless you beef it up. I have used fine silver anywhere that there is not going to be a lot of force or pressure.
Enjoy
Steve

There must be copper in an alloy to heat (precipitate) harden.

Please excuse any typos-- curse my clumsy digits…

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I made a wedding set in fine silver for someone allergic to everything else. I was thinking it would be softer and more likely to deform with wearing. I made the whole thing about 10 percent more massive than usual and made sure the prongs had some additional mass too. It worked very well, and she’s had no problems with it.

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So you made a fine silver solitaire, with fine silver prongs, And it held up!? How thick were the prongs? Did you work harden them at all?

Barbara E.C., you can’t work harden Fine Silver. Period!

Hello Margaret, Fine silver is lovely to work with and look at, but keep in mind that, because it cannot be work hardened, and remains always malleable, it is not a good solution for rings or bangle bracelets or any other jewelry item where it will be ‘abused’. Pendants and neckpieces and earrings work just fine.

That being said, I made a Fine Silver ring about ten years ago that I am still wearing. It is quite heavy, so that explains it’s survival. I am a texture/pattern freak, and much of the texture on this ring has been worn away as a consequence of being burnished by an adjacent ring. Such is the nature of Fine Silver.

Fine silver can be work hardened, and I know from experience. I have taken a fine silver ingot, and rolled it down to wire, it was very hard and when I Annealed it, it became nice and buttery soft again. Are you telling me this is not work hardening (and subsequent softening by annealing).

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